The SOCOM Commander’s Reading List

Have you checked out the reading list of the Commander of U.S. Special Operation Command? You should. Here is what Gen. Joseph L. Votel wants you to read.

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The Savior Generals
How Five Great Commanders Saved Wars That Were Lost - from Ancient Greece to Iraq

Prominent military historian Victor Davis Hanson explores the nature of leadership with his usual depth and vivid prose in The Savior Generals, a set of brilliantly executed pocket biographies of five generals (Themistocles, Belisarius, William Tecumseh Sherman, Matthew Ridgway, and David Petraeus) who single-handedly saved their nations from defeat in war. War is rarely a predictable enterprise―it is a mess of luck, chance, and incalculable variables. Today's sure winner can easily become tomorrow's doomed loser. Sudden, sharp changes in fortune can reverse the course of war.

These intractable circumstances are sometimes mastered by leaders of genius―asked at the eleventh hour to save a hopeless conflict, one created by others and frequently unpopular politically and with the public. The savior generals often come from outside the established power structure, employ radical strategies, and flame out quickly. Their careers regularly end in controversy. But their dramatic feats of leadership are vital slices of history―not merely as stirring military narrative, but as lessons on the dynamic nature of consensus, leadership, and destiny.

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Seal Of Honor
Operation Red Wings and the Life of Lt Michael P Murphy, USN, Gary Williams

A posthumous tribute to a man who gave his life for his comrades in Afghanistan Lt. Michael Patrick Murphy, commander of Navy SEAL Team 10, posthumously received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions on 28 June 2005 during a fierce battle with Taliban fighters in the remote mountains of eastern Afghanistan.

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Level Zero Heroes
Golembesky, Michael

A New York Times Best seller!In Level Zero Heroes, Michael Golembesky follows the members of U.S. Marine Special Operations Team 8222 on their assignment to the remote and isolated Taliban stronghold known as Bala Murghab as they conduct special operations in an effort to break the Taliban's grip on the Valley.

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The Longest War
The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda, Peter Bergen

In The Longest WarPeter Bergen offers a comprehensive history of the war on terror and its evolution, from the strategies devised in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to the fighting in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and beyond.

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The Twilight War
The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran

The dramatic secret history of our undeclared thirty-year conflict with Iran, revealing newsbreaking episodes of covert and deadly operations that brought the two nations to the brink of open warFor three decades, the United States and Iran have engaged in a secret war. It is a conflict that has never been acknowledged and a story that has never been told.

This surreptitious war began with the Iranian revolution and simmers today inside Iraq and in the Persian Gulf. Fights rage in the shadows, between the CIA and its network of spies and Iran's intelligence agency. Battles are fought at sea with Iranians in small speedboats attacking Western oil tankers. This conflict has frustrated five American presidents, divided administrations, and repeatedly threatened to bring the two nations into open warfare. It is a story of shocking miscalculations, bitter debates, hidden casualties, boldness, and betrayal.

A senior historian for the federal government with unparalleled access to senior officials and key documents of several U.S. administrations, Crist has spent more than ten years researching and writing The Twilight War, and he breaks new ground on virtually every page. Crist describes the series of secret negotiations between Iran and the United States after 9/11, culminating in Iran's proposal for a grand bargain for peace-which the Bush administration turned down. He documents the clandestine counterattack Iran launched after America's 2003 invasion of Iraq, in which thousands of soldiers disguised as reporters, tourists, pilgrims, and aid workers toiled to change the government in Baghdad and undercut American attempts to pacify the Iraqi insurgency. And he reveals in vivid detail for the first time a number of important stories of military and intelligence operations by both sides, both successes and failures, and their typically unexpected consequences.

Much has changed in the world since 1979, but Iran and America remain each other's biggest national security nightmares. "The Iran problem" is a razor-sharp briar patch that has claimed its sixth presidential victim in Barack Obama and his administration. The Twilight War adds vital new depth to our understanding of this acute dilemma it is also a thrillingly engrossing read, animated by a healthy irony about human failings in the fog of not-quite war.

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Cyber War
The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About it

Author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Against All Enemies, former presidential advisor and counter-terrorism expert Richard A. Clarke sounds a timely and chilling warning about America’s vulnerability in a terrifying new international conflict—Cyber War! Every concerned American should read this startling and explosive book that offers an insider’s view of White House ‘Situation Room’ operations and carries the reader to the frontlines of our cyber defense. Cyber War exposes a virulent threat to our nation’s security. This is no X-Files fantasy or conspiracy theory madness—this is real.

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Battle for Peace
Tony Zinni

Now a New York Times Bestseller!Tony Zinni has served on the frontlines of war and peace--as a Marine in Vietnam, commander of troops in the Middle East, and diplomatic envoy. His wealth of experience provides fascinating insight into how the world works and a sweeping vision of America's role in it.

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The Direction of War
Contemporary Strategy in Historical Perspective, Hew Strachan

The wars since 9/11, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, have generated frustration and an increasing sense of failure in the West. Much of the blame has been attributed to poor strategy. In both the United States and the United Kingdom, public enquiries and defence think tanks have detected a lack of consistent direction, of effective communication, and of governmental coordination.

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Exposing the Myths of the New Way of War, Douglas Porch

Counterinsurgency has staked its claim in the new century as the new American way of war. Yet, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have revived a historical debate about the costs - monetary, political and moral - of operations designed to eliminate insurgents and build nations.

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Going Big by Getting Small
The Application of Operational Art by Special Operations in Phase Zero, Petit, Brian S

Going Big by Getting Small examines how the United States Special Operations Forces apply operational art, the link between tactics and strategy, in the non-wartime, steady-state environments called Phase Zero. With revised and innovative operational art constructs, US Special Operations offer scalable and differentiated strategic options for US foreign policy goals. This book analyzes light footprint special operations approaches in Yemen, Indonesia, Thailand, and Colombia. When a large military presence may be inappropriate or counterproductive, Colonel Brian Petit makes the case for fresh thinking on Phase Zero operational art as applied by small, highly skilled, joint-force teams coupled with interagency partners. The past decade (2002-2012) of operations focused on large-scale, post-conflict counterinsurgency. Less publicized, but no less important in this same decade, was the emerging application of nuanced campaigns, actions, and activities in Phase Zero. These efforts were led or supported by special operations in countries and regions contested, but not at war. This book fills a gap in the literature of how to adapt the means, method, and logic of US military foreign engagements in a diplomacy-centric world with rapidly shifting power paradigms. Going Big by Getting Small is not a yarn on daring special operations raids nor a call for perpetual war. It is the polar opposite: this book contemplates the use of discreet engagements to sustain an advantageous peace, mitigate conflict, and prevent crises.

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The Ascent of Money
A Financial History of the World, Niall Ferguson

Chronicles the evolution of finance from its origins in Mesopotamia to the modern world's most recent upheavals, covering such topics as the stock market bubble that prompted the French Revolution and the theories behind common investment vehicles.

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The quest
Energy, security and the remaking of the modern world, Daniel Yergin

In "The Quest", master storyteller, leading energy expert and Pulitzer prize-winner for The Prize, Daniel Yergin shows us how energy is the ultimate engine of global political and economic change, in a gripping story that spans the old energies on which our civilization has been built, the new energies that are competing to replace them, and the battle over climate change.

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Outlines & Highlights for Intelligence : From Secrets To Policy by Mark

Never Highlight a Book Again! Just the FACTS101 study guides give the student the textbook outlines, highlights, practice quizzes and optional access to the full practice tests for their textbook.

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Executive Secrets
Covert Action and the Presidency, William J. Daugherty

In "Executive Secrets", William J. Daugherty, a retired senior officer in the Central Intelligence Agency, combines unique inside perspectives with sober objectivity in judging the true nature and scope of C.

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Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World, John P. Kotter

Based on the award-winning article in Harvard Business Review, from global leadership expert John Kotter. It's a familiar scene in organizations today: a new competitive threat or a big opportunity emerges.

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How Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained, and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation, Dan Ward

Noted military technology expert Dan Ward's manifesto for creating great products and projects using the methods of rapid innovation. Why do some programs deliver their product under cost, while others bust their budget? Why do some deliver ahead of schedule, while others experience endless delays? Which products work better-the quick and thrifty or the slow and expensive? Which situation leads to superior equipment? With nearly two decades as an engineering officer in the U.